Growth in Community

It is fairly natural and perhaps even necessary that a new community is taken up with its own originality and tends to idealize itself. If it didn’t believe itself to be unique, perhaps it would never have been founded at all. It’s like love, which always starts by idealization of the other: a baby is always the most gorgeous in the world to its parents, and a bride is always the most beautiful to her husband. With time, both parents and married couples become more realistic; perhaps too they become more committed, more faithful and more loving.

It is understandable that a new community should be turned in on itself, strongly conscious of its qualities and originality, and giving thanks for these.  At the start of a marriage, a couple has to take time to forge its unity, this isn’t egoism, but a necessary stage and growth.  With time, the community must stand back a little to discover the beauty and particular gifts of others, as well as its own limitations. Once it has found its own identity and discovered how the Holy Spirit is guiding it, it must be very attentive to the manifestations of the Spirit in others. It should not believe that it is the only community to have the privilege of being inspired by the Holy Spirit; it should listen to what the Spirit is saying to others. This will enable it to rediscover its own gifts and mission and encourage it to be more faithful to them. This in turn will enable it to discover its place in the Church and in humanity as a whole. If it is not attentive, the community risks missing a decisive turning point in its own growth.

–  Jean Vanier in Community And Growth


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